The United States Secretary of State, John Kerry, has said his country is reviewing aid to Uganda, a day after President Museveni signed the Anti-Homosexuality bill into law. A statement issued by Kerry early this morning criticized the Uganda government for enacting this law and that it would complicate a â€œvalued relationship.â€ As a result, Kerry said the United States was reviewing aid to Uganda.
A statement issued by Kerry early this morning criticized the Uganda government for enacting this law and that it would complicate a “valued relationship.” As a result, Kerry said the United States was reviewing aid to Uganda.
Kerry said they are beginning an internal review of his country’s relationship with Uganda to ensure that all dimensions of engagement, including assistance programs, uphold anti-discrimination policies and principles.
The United States donates slightly over 400 million Dollars annually, and is Uganda’s single largest donor country. The aid, termed as assistance, goes to health, agriculture, rehabilitation of northern Uganda and provides some military officials to assist in the pursuit of LRA fugitive rebel leader, Joseph Kony. In health, the amount goes to subsidize the cost of anti-retroviral drugs, family planning campaigns and fighting malaria using the President’s Malaria Initiative.
While signing the bill at a packed State House conference room on Monday afternoon, President Museveni looking bullish and unscathed acknowledged the aid received from the United States. He also said that most of the aid is funneled through NGOs. He accused NGOs of spending the money lavishly; emphasizing that Uganda did not need the American aid.
“They should leave us alone. Uganda is rich. They can take away their aid,” Museveni said yesterday. Adding, “I have looked at that figure of aid that comes in, especially for Aids and it is not so much. We cannot fail to find money to treat our people.” This was welcomed by applause from ministers and other government officials who flanked the President at the well-attended signing ceremony.
The last time Uganda experienced aid cuts was in 2012/13 financial year during corruption scandals in the Office of the Prime Minister and Ministry of Public Service. As a result, budget support shrunk by more than 80percent. Uganda now funds 81.1percent of the entire 13 tillion Uganda Shillings budget using domestic resources.
The enacting of the anti-homosexuality act is the latest development that could see Uganda losing more aid money. The act has been termed as backward, deeply regrettable and unacceptable by donor countries like the United States, Norway and the Netherlands.
The Norwegian Foreign Minister, Børge Brende, is also quoted in Norwegian newspaper, News in English, saying that budget support to Uganda will be redirected. The minister is quoted saying, “he has chosen to withhold NOK 50 million or 9 million US dollars in aid this year. He said he will instead increase aid to organizations that work for human rights and democracy in Uganda. Denmark has also said it would divert aid to Uganda.
The Anti-Homosexuality Act prescribes a life sentence for someone who is caught carrying out homosexual acts. It also bans same sex marriages. NGOs and other corporate organizations that promote or aid and abet homosexuals will have their licenses revoked and a director, if convicted is likely to get a jail sentence of up to seven years.
David Bahati, Ndorwa West Member of Parliament and the initiator of the law, hailed the enactment as a victory for families in Uganda; noting that it would protect children from any form of abuse.
Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in a statement says that protecting children from abuse had nothing to do with enacting a law that banned sex relations of two consenting adults. She instead, “urged the Government to strengthen implementation of its laws and policies to prevent and prosecute such abuse.”
This is unlikely as President Museveni warned “western powers” that the issue of homosexuality is a “no-go area” accusing them of “social imperialism” in trying to impose their values on Uganda. He further said they “should not waste time” in trying to debate this issue.